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Marshall turns the page

MU hoops
Jan. 26, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- In typical fashion, the Marshall University men's basketball squad bounced back from a defeat and had great practices.

Marshall has followed that pattern all season and it would seem to bode well leading into a Saturday game against Memphis. Or, does it?

Southern Miss flattened Marshall by 56 points Wednesday night, 102-46.

Head coach Tom Herrion said the Thundering Herd had a great workout Thursday in FedExForum, followed by another great workout Friday inside the Tigers' campus practice facility. FedExForum was unavailable Friday because of an NBA home game for the Memphis Grizzlies.

"We have to turn the page," Herrion said. "As embarrassed as we were, it's one loss. We have three-quarters of our conference schedule remaining."

Marshall, 9-10 for the season and 2-2 in Conference USA, meets Memphis (15-3, 4-0) at 2 p.m., Saturday, in FedExForum. The game is an FSN telecast on FS Ohio (Huntington cable Ch. 31) and Root Sports (Ch. 27).

Memphis and Marshall were once considered the leading contenders for the C-USA championship, but only the Tigers are living up to those expectations. They join Southern Miss as the only teams with perfect league records and received votes this week for The Associated Press Top 25.

The Tigers have won nine in a row overall and are 11-1 this season in their shiny arena just off Beale Street where they have a 156-18 all-time record.

Marshall is 0-6 this season in true road games and its only win away from campus was against District of Columbia, an NCAA Division II team, on a neutral court.

"We need to be focused for a great challenge," Herrion said.

Southern Miss (16-4, 5-0) made Marshall the victim of the worst beating ever in a C-USA game.

Elijah Pittman made a 3-point jump shot for Marshall only 19 seconds into the contest at Reed Green Coliseum, and the Golden Eagles answered with the next 21 points in a 47-4 surge and had a 47-7 lead with more than six minutes left in the first half.

Marshall got no closer than 34 for the rest of the night.

"It was unacceptable in terms of lack of competitiveness," Herrion said. "How we lost was totally unacceptable and can never be repeated. That's the message. They (players) heard it loud and clear. I was brutally honest with them.

"We have to realize why it happened and don't let it happen again."

Memphis has a mix of old and new players contributing in head coach Josh Pastner's fourth season.

Junior guard Joe Jacksonm a preseason All-CUSA second team selection, is averaging 13.8 points and 4.4 assists per game.

Adonis Thomas, a 6-foot-7, 240-pound sophomore, and junior college transfer guard Geron Jonson are scoring 10.4 and 10.2 a game respectively. Tarik Black, a 6-9, 262-pound preseason all-conference first team pick, comes off the bench for 9.9 points and 4.9 rebounds.

Six-foot-nine, 246-pound freshman forward Shaq Goodwin is a starter averaging 8.9 points. D.J. Stephens is a 6-5 senior leading the Tigers with 6.7 rebounds a game.

Junior guards Chris Crawford and Antonio Barton contribute 6.8 and 6.5 points respectively.

An average Memphis score is 73.2 to 62.7 while the Tigers own a plus-5.6 rebound advantage on opponents.

"They have a lot of weapons," Herrion said. "When you have Crawford and Black coming off the bench you're pretty good."

Marshall has four of its regular starters scoring double figures -- Pittman, a 6-9 junior forward, 14.8; junior all-conference guard Dre Kane 14.5; junior wing shooter D.D. Scarver 13.3; and 6-8 senior forward Dennis Tinnon 10.5. Tinnon also averages 8.8 rebounds and 6-10 senior center Nigel Spikes gets 8.2 a game.

Kane leads the conference with 7.3 assists per game.

The Herd scores 68.5 per game for the season, but only 66.2 in league games, while giving up 70.9 on average. Marshall is plus-3.6 in rebounds.

Making foul shots is a problem for both teams. Memphis hits 67.7 percent while Marshall ranks last in the nation at 56.8 percent.

Turnovers are another problem for Marshall, which leads the conference with 16.5 a game.

Herrion said redshirt freshman guard DeVince Boykins might not be available because of a hip or high groin injury he suffered early in the week.

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